ERJ staff report (RPN)
Pawtucket, Rhode Island – Three new thermoplastic elastomers developed and designed by Teknor Apex Co. for wire and cable use in clinical settings have been a hit with customers so far, Chris Sweeney reported for Rubber & Plastics News.
The Medalist 8421, 8431 and 8451 compounds were introduced at the Interwire wire and cable trade exposition 22-25 April in Atlanta. Each passed the medical test ISO 10993-5 for cytotoxicity, a standard test for medical products that come in contact with the body.
“We had been doing some test selling and got some pretty good reviews back from customers,” said Keith Saunders, senior market manager for the Thermoplastic Elastomer Division of Teknor Apex. “We've got many requests in from customers for samples. The acceptance has been very good.”
The Medalist compounds can be used on any kind of medical device that would require an electrical cable and come in contact with the body. They are not designed specifically to come in contact with an open wound, but during surgery the cables created from these TPEs are clean enough to do so without contamination.
The cables can be used for insulation, jacketing and molded fittings and connectors. They have Shore A hardness levels of 92, 69 and 82, a flammability classification of HB (UL-94) and a maximum continuous operating temperature of 105°C. They also are resistant to common cleaning solutions used in the medical field.
The elastomers provide rubber-like toughness and elasticity, but unlike rubber are easily recycled, the company said. They provide a number of advantages in clinical or surgical settings over their PVC counterparts by reducing cable clutter with superior drapability, contain a better elastic memory and a more supple feel than a PVC cable.
Teknor developed the compounds in response to customer demand for an alternative to polyvinyl chloride. According to the company, PVC is a great compound for medical, but some customers get nervous because of issues with certain plasticisers within PVC materials.
“We noticed there was a need for materials that have the same insulating value and jacket performance, but that need to be medically clean for use in operating rooms or contact with patients,” Saunders said. “We basically took two of our standard wire and cable grades that we've been selling for many years and just made sure they were medically clean.”
Teknor uses these same compounds in its Elaxar-brand wire and cable offerings outside the medical field. The only difference is those cables do not need to meet medical grade standards, and these grades are manufactured in an ISO-13485 facility dedicated to Medalist medical elastomers, the firm said.
Saunders said there likely is a big market in Asia, but now the company is focused on building a strong base in the US.